I have this little dream. I wish that people would know as much about their computers as they know about their cars. Our lives would be so much better then. No more dumb support calls, no more dealing with clueless lusers, no more larting.
I’m serious about this. Most people can talk about their cars using full sentences, and proper terminology (you know, like engine, gas tank, fuel gauge not thingy, whatchumacallit that that thing with the error message). For example, you can ask just about any driver out there the following questions and in most cases they will give you informed answers:
- what car do you drive?
- what’s your car’s millage?
- how many miles to a gallon do you get?
- how many gallons fit in your tank
- is it a 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder engine?
- what company made your car?
- what kind of engine oil and/or break fuel do you recommend?
It doesn’t really matter if the person is a mechanic, race car driver, trucker, commuter or a soccer mom. Most people will be able to answer at least half of these questions, even if they are not really that much “into cars”. Now let’s try a similar set of descriptive questions regarding computers:
- what kind of computer do you have?
- what is your CPU speed?
- how much memory do you have?
- how big is hour hard drive?
- what kind of operating system are you running?
- what company made your computer?
- what kind of anti-virus software would you recommend?
In my experience, most people can answer only one or two questions from this list of the top of their head. Why is that? The information in both cases is not all that much different. Both car and computer specs are just numbers, acronyms and brand names. I always find it funny how the same person can remember a hundred different meaningless factoids about their car, and a hundred more about their dream car, and about the car they are going to buy in 2 years if they can afford it, but never bother learning few really basic facts about their computer.
People often complain that sysadmins and IT people are arrogant and look down on the people who know less than they do. But think about this: if you asked someone what card do they drive, and their answer was: “Um… I don’t know… How do I check that?” wouldn’t you think less of them or assume they were joking?
When you call a car mechanic you kinda expect them to ask you about the make of your car, year of production, millage and etc. You also don’t just tell them that you saw a blinking like on the dashboard and forgot to write down what it said. But when people call tech support, they seem to expect that we magically guess what kind of machine they have, what kind of operating system they run, and what error did they get 3 days ago. Sigh…
The crux of the problem is this: it is generally not socially acceptable to be completely clueless about cars. However it seems to be perfectly acceptable to be clueless about computers and electronics, to the point that people like to brag about their incompetence. For some reason people think that it is kinda cute not to understand the tools they use to do their job every single day…
Btw, this topic started as a comment on the Twenty Sided blog, but I kinda went with it and reposted it here. :)
I just found this today, and I thought it was kinda related to this topic. It kinda illustrates my point by reversing the situation. (here is the original source in case /dev/random ever goes to shit)
[tags]computers, cars, clueless, lusers, lart, sysadmin, it[/tags]